I ate so much vegan street food in Penang, Malaysia that needed its own post. While at first I didn’t think Penang lived up to all the (vegan) hype, the street food was a game changer.
Of course it takes a bit longer to figure out which street food is vegan as most street food stands are not on Happy Cow. With some Google Translate and slowly asking for details of what’s in things over time, asking other vegan travelers who’d been there for wisdom, etc. I scored some delicious vegan street food in Penang!
Get ready for all things rice flour!
Looking for a more expensive guide to Penang, Malaysia? For tips on where to stay, where to eat (vegan food), where to work and where to work out check out my post Vegan Penang Guide: Did Georgetown, Malaysia Live Up to the Hype?
Steamed Buns (Bao)
While I’ve certainly been to places with bao before, they always somehow flew under my radar. Not this time. I am officially OBSESSED! Especially the red bean ones, omg.
How to find bao? I found two three places I frequented, one on Kimberley Street, one in front of EE Beng Vegetarian Restaurant and one on Church Street (between Penang Street and Beach Street). Just look for the bao steamer cases out front like in the picture below.
Bao are more of a morning and afternoon thing, you won’t find them at night. I usually ate them for breakfast! Some will have meat, the red bean is vegan and most places will usually have a savory vegetarian one.
Rice Flour Cake
My friend Amelie from Mostly Amelie told me to look out for these. After some searching I found this stand, Pan Cake and Steam Rice Cake Stand, that’s open from 6:30 – 11pm on Google Maps. They are awesome and everything is accidentally vegan. They spoke enough English to talk me through the ingredients and it’s pretty much rice flour, sugar, coconut and coconut milk.
The picture on the left is from the stand. They also do fried pancakes stuffed with things and fried sesame balls. The one on the right stuffed with peanut is one I stumbled upon after leaving the gym at the market on the street Jalan Kuala Kangsar.
Fried Sesame Balls
These fried sesame balls were my freaking favorite. I especially loved the peanut-filled ones but also enjoyed the red bean flavor. They also often have a lotus bean flavor but I found that way too sweet.
The main place I frequented for these was a shop on Kimberley Street at a restaurant called Leong Kee Tim Sum. They have a big steamed bun case outside and also have the fried sesame balls and other stuff.
Mochi are pretty easy to find. There is a stall on Kimberley Street in the afternoon and evening that also sells Kuih (near the crossing with Lebuh Cintra). I found the peanut mochi there a bit too soft for my taste though. Honestly I was all about the fried sesame mochi.
This is a Malaysian specialty based on glutinous rice. I tried really hard to get behind it, but it mostly wasn’t my thing. I didn’t mind the yellow corn one though!
If you want to try the main famous place for them is Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay (that’s the Google Maps link). They are open only during the day until about 5pm and have tons of accidentally vegan kuih. Ingredients are listed in English so make sure to read them closely as some have non-vegan stuff.
There’s also a shop that sells kuih on Kimberley Street called Kuih Culture and a stand also on Kimberley Street open late afternoon and evening near Lebuh Cintra. Another place on Jalan Penang before you go across the street to head to EE Beng on Lebuh Dickens also has them.
The pictures below are all from the famous Moh Teng Pheow Nonya Koay.
I decided to be brave and try even though it didn’t seem like my thing at all. It was definitely better than expected, but yeah, ultimately not something I’d get frequently. It’s shaved ice with coconut milk on top, pandan-flavored glutinous rice/tapioca jelly noodles topped with sweet red bean.
I thought the coconut and bean part was good, but the noodles were way to gelatinous for me. Lots of the other vegan bloggers who wrote about this seemed to love it though!
Fried Stuffed Rice Pancakes
Found these also at one of my favorite vegan street food stalls I discovered way too late in Penang, Pan Cake and Steam Rice Cake Stand. They are open from around 6pm and also have fried sesame balls and steamed rice cake. They had one stuffed with coconut and one with red bean, plus a plain one.
Vegan Street Food in Penang – Beverage Edition
A famous brightly-colored drink made from biji selasih (basil seeds), isi kelapa (coconut flesh), sirap ros (rose syrup), kelapa air (coconut water) and shaved ice. If you have a sweet tooth it is certainly refreshing on a hot day! A bit too sweet for me, but give it a try…
The main famous place for this is a stall called Ais Tingkap on a side street called Lebuh Tamil.
I was very curious about this one. Nutmeg juice?! Nutmegs can be juiced?! So I decided to try it. I actually liked this one! Unlike most of the other stuff, it had a sour taste along with the sweetness, which is more my style. I love sour drinks. It did have a hint of nutmeg taste but it worked surprisingly well.
I got mine from a stand on Armenian Street right by Yun Shui Ge Vegetarian House. They’re not on Google Maps but they advertise the nutmeg juice pretty obviously.
Pin This Vegan Street Food Guide to Penang for Later:
Traveling around Southeast Asia? Have a look at my other vegan guides for the area!
- Vegan Penang Guide – Does Georgetown, Malaysia live up to the hype?
- Vegan Bangkok Guide
- Super Thorough Vegan Chiang Mai Guide
- Vegan Kampot, Cambodia: Go Live in a Treehouse in this Hippy Mountain Town
- Koh Phangan – Vegan Heaven or New Age Hell?
- Vegan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – A 4-day Layover
- I got in touch with my inner hippy in Pai – Vegan Pai Guide
- Vegan Bali Guide – All you need for a week (or more) in Ubud